U.S. House Votes to Protect States With Legal Marijuana

Credit: Louis Velazquez

An amendment to protect all U.S. state-run marijuana programs from federal interference passed the U.S. he House of Representatives on Thursday. The bill passed in a 254-163 vote on the floor. Earlier in the day, it had been approved in an initial voice vote.

If enacted, the measure would prevent the Department of Justice (DOJ) from using its funds to impede states from implementing cannabis legalization laws. The bipartisan effort was led by Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Tom McClintock, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Barbara Lee.

The amendment builds on an existing provision that only protects state medical cannabis laws from DOJ intervention that has been enacted through appropriations legislation each year since 2014.

As a growing number of states have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, “we’ve watched across the country shifting attitudes,” Blumenauer said in the floor debate prior to the vote, according to marijuanamoment.net, a cannabis advocacy group. “The federal government, sadly, is still trapped by the dead hand of Richard Nixon’s war on drugs, declaring cannabis a schedule I controlled substance.”

The congressman also talked about separate House-passed legislation to protect banks that service the marijuana industry and another standalone bill to federally deschedule cannabis.